The Importance of the Level of High School Math Studies to the Academic Studies and Future Careers of Israeli Students
Author: Ayal Kimhi, Arik Horovitz
April 12, 2015
This research examines the effect of the level of high school math studies on achievements in the Israeli labor market – employment rates and income levels
The study found that employment was higher among those who took a bagrut [matriculation] exam of at least 3 units of math than among those who were tested at a lower level or did not take the bagrut exams at all, although there were no employment gaps between those who studied 3, 4 or 5 units of math. In contrast, there were substantial income gaps between each level of math study. Most of the difference was indirect: learning higher level math leads to choosing more rigorous academic studies, which, in turn, leads to employment at a higher wage level. In addition, studying 5 units of math is also positively and directly related to income (that is, through statistical analysis controlling for certain variables), particularly among women. A theoretical scenario analysis showed that moving a student from 4 to 5 units of math study is expected to increase wages by 10% – 6% of which is the direct effect and 4% is due to increased income from the fields of study typical for someone who learned 5 units of math (primarily computer sciences). Level of math study affects the choice of field of academic study more for women than for men, and women’s wages are also more impacted by their level of study. In order to encourage higher level math studies, there must be an improvement in the teaching level as well as a higher awareness of the importance of math studies among pupils and their families. Consideration should even be given to incentivizing the schools to teach higher level math to more pupils.